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Mar 11, 201611:02 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Madison’s trickle-down theory of education

(page 1 of 2)

I’m going to be sick.

“John Matthews is a champion of public education and Wisconsin”? So says the Corporation that Speaks in the Progressive Voice.

No one fawns better than this in-kind contributor to left-wing candidates (and enjoys exemption from all campaign finance reporting laws).

Do you remember Matthews raising a hoo-ha over the racial educational gap in Madison schools? Neither does anyone here at the Policy Werkes. (That would be Kaleem Caire.) Did John Matthews speak up in favor or opposition to Common Core educational standards? No, he did not. Start up a public charter school aimed at improving minority achievement? Fought it tooth and nail. Did he require all high school students take the ACT college test? That’s a negative, little buddy. Pay teachers on merit? Nope. Fought that, too.

The publication that denounces “cronyism” always gave Matthews a pass for his sweetheart deal with a private health insurance provider on whose board of directors he served (and was handsomely compensated).

“No one fought harder for public education than Matthews,” the CT avers. Let’s parse that claim. He and his Madison Teachers Inc. always fought for more teacher pay and more fringe benefits. That was his job, pure and simple — and he was good at it. More than once Matthews himself eschewed any other responsibility. Let’s call this the trickle-down theory of educational excellence. Feed the teachers and their students will reap the crumbs.

Now, for what The Capital Times does not claim. His teachers union never fought for better education. The claim specifies “public education.” That means the government monopoly, union-controlled K-12 system. No competition in the marketplace. Sure, you can send your child to a private school and pay the tuition — as long as you continue to pay the monopoly. What a business model!

You want local control? The ultimate local control pushes decision-making down to the family kitchen table. The Republican state government gave the UW System authority to create charter schools that are independent of the school district. This is something that the Madison School District asked for, however unknowingly, when it denied Madison Urban League’s proposed Madison Prep charter school.

Under this UW aegis, the state per-pupil stipend follows the student to the independent charter school.

One bright spot: Madison schools Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham appears to get it. “My intent is to make [the independent charters] obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.” (Quoted here.)

That is the value of competition, my socialist acquaintances. Still time, Jennifer, to work up an in-district Madison Prep. Act 10 frees you from making that charter school subject to union work rules.


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Mar 11, 2016 11:43 am
 Posted by  John

John Matthews is Madison's Al Shanker, who famously said, "When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children."

Mar 11, 2016 12:15 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous


Maybe you should do a piece on how the party of "small government" has passed over 50 bills taking local control away from the locals. Pretty low hanging fruit that even a guy with your modest investigative skills could handle.

Mar 12, 2016 07:04 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Living in rural Banana Republic of Dane, we know how "locals" (ie Madison) pass bills taking away local control. Look no further than the gerrymandering of the county board districts

Mar 13, 2016 08:58 am
 Posted by  Dave, not B

Boy, what do they smoke over at Madison Newspapers, Inc? Must be pretty strong to make them think the kind of garbage they printed in that article. Nichols must have had breakfast with Bernie that day. Hilarious!!!

Mar 13, 2016 10:38 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

John Matthews made me proud to be a teacher in the Madison Public School System for over 34 years. His encouragement, professional example and dedication to improving the working environment of all teachers keep me in the classroom.

I received several awards for excellence in teaching including the Golden Apple Award, system wide Distinguished Teaching Award, and state wide recognition. My students graduated from some of the top universities in the United States and over 10 of my students graduated from the UW vet school.

What did John Matthews do for education? He kept me and many of my colleagues in the classroom instead seeking higher paying position in the private sector.

If fact, I can think of few that have done more for education.

Mar 14, 2016 09:09 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

A woman I know was a Madison teacher. She got pregnant and wanted to take a maternity leave. The district said she would lose her job.

Another woman I know was paid significantly less than her male coworkers in her high school English department. Complaints to the district resulted in threats to bump her down to substitute.

John Matthews resolved both of those. I'm told there are dozens, if not hundreds more.

Matthews is a stick in Blaska's side because few have been better at organizing so many while Blaska has organized so few. Envy is a sin, not a virtue.

Mar 14, 2016 09:12 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I'd take a few million Oscar's way to keep some jobs. After all, Walker's WEDC has paid more for much, much less. I guess Kraft probably wasn't much of a donor when Walker went begging before his brilliant presidential run.

Mar 14, 2016 09:30 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Speaking of education, here's a name I haven't seen in a while on this blog: Bill Cosby.

Wonder why.

Mar 14, 2016 08:17 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Blaska is as perpetually outraged as the liberals he claims to loathe. A funny (money) scheme he pulls.

Actually, do they even pay you for this drivel?

Mar 15, 2016 08:12 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Walker and Co. are destroying our schools and everything else.

John Matthews would never have said that. He did a good job. And there's no proof Al Shanker said that. But he did say this: "The Atlantic article by Klein quotes Shanker as saying: “The key is that unless there is accountability, we will never get the right system. As long as there are no consequences if kids or adults don’t perform, as long as the discussion is not about education and student outcomes, then we’re playing a game as to who has the power.”"

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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